Howies Waffler Merino Midlayer

I’m a great believer in wearing clothes that work, fit well and have usable features. That means the clothes I’m wearing on the hill from the start, base layer, trousers, and now we’re into cooler weather my mid-layer as well. Saving weight on what you’re carrying increases your joy, but worrying about the weight of your baselayer for backpacking says more about perception of your personal fitness than anything else I think.
As regular listeners may have spotted I’m usually all multi pocketed mountain pants and merino underwear, the heaviest combo out there. This was why I wanted to test Parámo: wear heavy; stay comfy; maintain a light pack. It’s a notion that fits the colder months better of course.

So midlayers were on my mind, weight no object, but good performance. I’ve got a cracking discontinued Macpac merino/sythetic pullover, but it’s a bit of a rarity to find that kind of thing. Icebreaker do a few in pure merino, but they seem awfy casually styled, or should I say apres ski in style.

So I spotted this Waffler from Howies coming out for winter and I was instantly keen to get one in for test. I’ve used their merino baselayers for a couple of years and they’re great.
The Waffler has a Bi-Polar (?!) fabric, smooth inner face and grid outer for wicking and increased drying performance. Polartec made a similar polyester fabric a while back, Karrimor used it on their Concordia pullover and it was very abrasion resistant as well keeping comfort levels high.
I don’t expect the same levels of abrasion resistance from the Howies pure merino fabric, but it should help. The fabric is also very stretchy and this size medium fits me well. The panelled constuction mirrors Howies merino baselayers, do the panels help movement? I don’t think so, but my guess is that it uses up fabric offcuts, keeping the eco-credentials up and factory waste down.
The neck is a bid odd, rather than a close, sealing fit, it’s sticky-outy at the front like it should be worn with a cravate or a knotted Buff. Good on it’s own, under a shell there might be issues.

It’ll stay fresh for long time, it’s comfy and that’s offset with the usual merino criticisms, slow drying and slow wicking. It’s a personal decision where the compromise is. The other details are probably deal breakers, it weighs in at not much less that 400g and retails at £90. A Haglöfs Single weighs 165g and cost £45, you’d have to really want the merino performance, and in my mind I’d have to wear the Waffler from the car, cos there’s no way it’s going in my pack. Like Parámo.

4 thoughts on “Howies Waffler Merino Midlayer”

  1. This may come across as a bit negative, but at £90 for a long sleeve T shirt they can stick it. That is taking the p*** big style, it’s not as if Merino is hard to get nowadays. In the current economic climate I fear for the future of companies charging stupid prices like this.

  2. It is is frightening isn’t it, but folk are paying that kind of money for those Icebreaker midlayers with the stripey arms. So there is a market there somewhere.
    But, for £90 I want a hood, thumbloops, chest pockets with a mesh lining, a full length zip etc

  3. I’ll be interested in how you get on with Paramo.
    There’s no doubt it’s the best for cold, wet conditions, but!
    I was a Paramoholic in winter from the early Nineties until a couple of years ago. For me the Paramo season was getting too short and the Alta was spending too much time in the sack, which is what you hope not to have to do.
    In the last couple of years of wearing Paramo I had a Velez, which was a bit better but still ended up in the sack, either at the start or end of the trip. Up high, they were good, but on the whole??
    But it’s horses for courses and we are all different. I am tempted to go for an Aspira if it comes at the right price (Ebay) for the odd day we get nowadays when it will be worthwhile but I am not sure.
    I await your feedback with interest.

  4. I’m hoping to get some more big hills days with the Velez AL before it goes back.
    This flu has really screwed up my testing.

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